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Raymond Merriman - The Saturn/Neptune Phases

The Saturn/Neptune cycle has a 36-year periodicity. That is, approximately every 36 years Saturn and Neptune return to the same spatial relationship with one another, known as an aspect. For example, when Saturn and Neptune are in the same degree of the same sign of the zodiac, they are said to be in a “conjunction” aspect. They are zero (0) degrees apart in longitude as seen from the earth. This happens, on average, every 36 years.

The last conjunction of Saturn and Neptune occurred in a three-passage series (due to Saturn’s retrograde motion) March 3, 1989 through November 13, 1989 at 10-12º Capricorn. The next conjunction will take place in a single passage on February 20, 2026, at 0º Aries. That will be a very significant one because it takes place at the beginning of the tropical zodiac, or the same degree of the Sun as it begins the season of spring every year. The last time Saturn and Neptune were conjunct in early Aries was in 555 AD, according to astrological researcher Daniel Gordon.1

A cycle involving any two planets is known as a “planetary-pair” cycle. A planetary pair cycle begins at the conjunction. Every 90 degrees of separation after the conjunction is a quarter phase of that cycle. In the study of astrology, these four phases represent the major “hard aspects” between planets. These four “hard aspects” include the following:


·         The conjunction, that start of the cycle and the first quarter phase. This is akin to the “conception” of a new direction, new issues related to these two planets.

·         The waxing square - the end of the first phase and start of the second, when the two planets are 90º apart. This is akin to the “birth,” the outward manifestation of that which was conceived at the conjunction. It can be painful, as in any birthing process, but it usually survives the threat.

·         The opposition - the end of the second phase and start of the third, when the two planets are 180º degrees apart. This is the peak functioning of the idea that was conceived at the conjunction and launched at the waxing square. It is now accepted as the “norm” and has momentum to continue.

·         The waning square - the end of the third phase and start of the fourth and final phase, when the two planets are 270º apart. This is when the conditions and conceptions of the conjunction become viewed as obsolete, no longer serving their purpose. The models that had been constructed around those ideas begin to be torn down.

·         Back to the conjunction (the end of the fourth phase when these planets are 360º apart, and start of the new cycle, when the two planets are back to 0º degrees, to start a new cycle). This is when the old model is either discarded or rebuilt. A new invention related to the principles of these planets begins. It is “out with the old, in with the new.”




Below are the dates of the current Saturn/Neptune planetary cycle and its phases, or hard aspects:

·         March – November 1989 (conjunction, start of first phase)

·         June 1998 – April 1999 (waxing square, start of second phase)

·         August 2006 – June 2007 (opposition, start of third phase)

·         November 2015 – September 2016 (waning square, start of fourth and last phase)

·         February 2026 (conjunction, end of old cycle, start of new cycle)


The first four periods represent three-phase passages because Saturn turns retrograde during each period and therefore aspects Neptune three times. That does not happen in the conjunction of 2026, which is a single passage instance between the two planets.       

The orb of influence extends to 9 months before the first aspect and nine months following the last aspect in a three-passage series. In a single passage, the orb of influence is nine months before and nine months after the solo passage.



Each of these phases, or hard aspects, is important. When the new cycle begins at the conjunction, it sets into a motion certain themes (political, social, economic) that will likely be highlighted at each of the following four phases. Not only are the themes similar, but the same regions of the world are often highlighted on the world stage. For example, in 1989, the fall of Russian Communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union occurred. Over 300 million new consumers were freed to participate in the free world market economy. Russia lost its status as a world superpower, but its citizens, and the citizens of its satellites in the Soviet Union, were released (and exposed) to many of the freedoms of the rest of the western world.

In 1998-99, under the first quarter square of Saturn/Neptune (first phase), Vladimir Putin became the new Prime Minister of Russia. By the end of 1999, he assumed the role of President upon the resignation of Boris Yeltsin. A new era was now being birthed.

The opposition of Saturn and Neptune unfolded in 2006-2007. This was a time of increasing dissent by those who protested against Putin’s new policies.  In September 2007, Putin dissolved the government in order to have a “free hand in the run up to the parliamentary elections.”2 He was barred from running for a third presidential term in 2008, but this maneuver allowed him to retain great powers before the new president took office.

The third phase, known as the waxing square, now occurs in 2015-2016. After years of economic and political decline since 1989, Russia is again back on the world stage (under Putin’s leadership), once again asserting itself as a world super power and expanding its range of political influence in many of the same regions it controlled prior to 1989 – and more. Thus, it is easy to make the forecast that in 2016, Russia’s expansion and status as a world super power will likely continue. However, the fourth and final phase of this Saturn/Neptune cycle also begins now and will last through 2026.


The last phase of any cycle is usually the period where all the advances of the first three phases – and especially the first phase – are re-examined and determined to be obsolete. They are no longer practical or useful. They are torn down, as new models for a new future are being conceived. Any remnants of the first phase are pushed aside as no longer relevant, and anyone who still supports them is considered “behind the times.”

The progressive reforms undertaken by Russia in 1989, at the time of the conjunction of Saturn and Neptune, fit this category. They are no longer relevant to Russia. Any reminder of them during the next 9-10 years – and efforts to return to the conditions of 1989-1998 – are likely to fail. Yet there is another new model that is being built and not yet finished, not until 2026. The Russia one sees today is not the Russia of 1989-1998. It will also not be the Russia that will be in force in 10 years. We may see a Russia that is stronger and more powerful as a world super power than ever before. It is possible that in the next ten years, Russia will become the world’s dominant super power. Or, we may see a Russia that once again disintegrates, loses everything it has built (perhaps due to economic mismanagement), and is forced to start anew, just as happened in 1917 (Bolshevik Revolution), 1952-53 (death of Stalin), and 1988-1989 (breakup of the Soviet Union), which were the last three times that Saturn and Neptune conjoined.



1.        Gordon, Daniel, “A Repeated Saturn and Neptune Synodic Cycle – Can the 6th Century Tell Us About the Next Ten Years?,”, May 23, 2015.

2., on Vladimir Putin’s second presidential term.